Thursday, May 26, 2016

Youths donating to their local fire company

I recently reported on two stories about kids donating toward organizations, including volunteer fire companies. The best part is that these kids decided by themselves to do this.

Springfield resident Ryan Natow had a birthday gift request: home-made birthday card and a dollar donation to his local fire company in Delaware County. His friends complied and gave him money at a block party for his fifth birthday party. A crew from the fire company attends such block parties. The crew from the Springfield Fire Company arrived at this block party in the Squad, unaware how much Ryan enjoyed their presence. Jason Natow, Ryan’s father, said that the kids enjoy operating the booster line from the apparatus.

Ryan and Jason visited the fire station to hand-deliver the $115 donation. Jason noted that many friends provided $5 to $20. He said they gladly donated more than they anticipated.

The men and women of the Springfield Fire Company were surprised and grateful for the generosity shown to them.

“We are thankful to Ryan for thinking of us at the Springfield Fire Company to financially help us with the services provided to our neighbors,” Battalion Chief Thomas Foran said. “We appreciate his selflessness to give back to the community, especially at such a young age.” 
Photo courtesy of the Springfield Fire Company Facebook page
Five-year-old Springfield resident Ryan Natow donated $115 to the Springfield Fire Company on May 17, 2016. Natow asked his friends and family to bring a donation for the firehouse rather than buy him birthday gifts. After he toured the firehouse, Natow posed for pictures with several of the volunteer firefighters. Pictured with Natow, from left to right, are firefighters Colin Richers, Eric Lyons and John Smith.  

The fire service relies on donations, federal and state grant money to purchase the equipment needed to serve the community.

Springfield Fire Company secretary and past Chief John F. Gallagher wrote a letter of thanks to Ryan and Jason.

“The Springfield Fire Company relies on donations to support those expenses not covered by tax dollars,” Gallagher wrote. “It is people like you and Ryan, who appreciate what we do for Springfield that makes this a great community.”

Firefighters in the Downingtown area recently felt that appreciation from students who participated in a “pay it forward” project.

Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center students donated items and their time to organizations nearby their school in Chester County. The idea developed when Marsh Creek student Saige DeBlasio saved her money and gave her teacher $15 to replace a missing item from her classroom. Marsh Creek teacher Christine DiGiovanni, thankful for her student’s thoughtfulness, said they wanted to show that appreciation to others.

Marsh Creek Principal Thomas Mulvey said the students interacted with the community with the thought of how they could positively impact others. He said the 11-year-old students thought of what causes they believe in and how they could contribute to make a difference.

DiGiovanni said the youths connected with community members who they may not have met otherwise. She said they realized that it is not about the money, but rather, it is about how you spend your time and “surprising someone who doesn’t expect it.”

Among 10 organizations, they donated items to the Lionville Fire Company. Several families of the students plan to volunteer with the organization in the future by helping the firefighters wash the apparatus or cook a meal for the first-responders. 

Submitted photo - Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center
Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center students pose with firefighters and their donations to the Lionville Fire Company. A total of 130 students donated to 10 local organizations in the Downingtown area, as part of a "pay it forward" project. 

DiGiovanni said that several organization members thanked them for their donations and for appreciating those who work or volunteer in an environment that has become a “thankless job.”

Some people find a way to show an appreciation beyond words. In stories I reported on, some people said that we do not think of our first-responders until we need them.

I interviewed Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell at the scene of a commercial building fire in the borough on May 12, 2015. Officials estimated that more than 150 firefighters responded from about ten volunteer fire companies.

“Someone (that day) leaned over to me and said about the volunteer firefighters that had showed up, ‘wow, when you need them, you really need them,’” Maxwell said.

Firefighters welcome visitors to stop by their station. I heard a firefighter say that firehouses are like homes, the bay doors are open to welcome residents, and if the doors are closed, the doorbell always works.

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